Saturday, April 2, 2011

Planting Day for Cold-Tolerant Seeds

The earliest daffodils are blooming, and now today, the Shiro plum tree. A couple of blooms have opened on the apricot. Buds are swelling on the rest of the plums, and leaves just starting to show on the lilacs and the maple tree. It's starting to look like Spring!

Yesterday evening, I finished digging and shaping two of my garden beds, and laid out the soaker hoses. So today was early season planting day. The onion plants were still dormant, down in the cool cellar. It's a bit damp down there, and a few of the tops had a bit of fluffy, grey mold on the tips. So, using my kitchen shears, I clipped about half an inch from the top of each bunch. Once outside in the wind and the sun, they should be fine.

With six garden beds to play with now, I've had to do some figuring and planning of how I want to divide up my plantings, and how my rotation will work. One long bed will now be the Allium bed, with a couple of little bits for the earliest greens harvests interspersed. It gets a dual soaker hose setup. My softneck garlic, from bulbs harvested last July then planted last fall, is already up about four inches, and green tips of the shallots are just starting to poke up out of the ground. I had scattered some spinach and arugula seeds in a block between those two last fall. They germinated in January but then shriveled in the dry eight weeks that followed. Ah well, sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. So today I seeded some more arugula (my seeds, harvested last summer) in half of that area and some Champion and Salad Red radishes in the other half.

On the other end of the bed, I set out one bunch of Copra onion plants, plus a mixed bunch of Red Zeppelin, Ringmaster, and Walla Walla plants. I dug a couple of bunches of baby leeks from my allium nursery bed, and set each one into a hole the depth of my trowel (taking the time to hand-dig the entire bed this past week makes it so easy to plant everything today). In the last little patch of that bed, I scattered some Bloomsdale Long-Standing spinach seeds, harvested from last year's plants.

The second long bed will be a Peas and Greens bed - also with dual soaker hoses. I made three pea trellises, pieces of wire fencing attached with twist ties to t-posts pounded into the center of the bed. Despite what they say on the seed packets, I don't think you can plant peas too thickly. I dig a 3" wide trench on either side of the trellis and then scatter in the seeds about half an inch apart. I planted Sugar Snap peas around one trellis, Lincoln English peas around another and, for the Chinese pea pods, Melting Sugar on one side and Oregon Sugar on the other. All the peas are heirloom open-pollinated varieties, so I can save seeds for future plantings.

I've found that planting lettuces on the outside edges of the pea plantings works well. As the weather gets warmer, the growing peas provide shade for the lettuces, and the shade from the lettuces keeps the pea roots cooler, prolonging the harvests of both crops. I planted Romaine, Four Seasons, Buttercrunch, and a Gourmet mix of lettuces (also all open-pollinated) on either side of the Snap and Chinese pea plantings. I'm going to start some Tuscan kale plants inside to set out alongside the English peas.

I seeded some Swiss Chard and the last of my Joi Choi seeds in one patch between two trellises. I need to order some more Joi Choi seeds. It's a hybrid but it's the only bok choi I've found that can take the heat of our high-desert summer without bolting, so worth searching out (I get it from Jung Seeds). The rest of that bed I left open for cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli transplants.

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